IVORY COAST – Two Swiss chocolate manufacturers, Barry Callebaut, and Nestlé have signed a long-term agroforestry project agreement in Ivory Coast, which will immensely benefit cocoa producers and intensify the agroforestry approach happening in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The long-term agreement partnership will roll out 11,500 ha of agroforestry, including payments for ecosystem services (PES) to more than 6,000 farmers in the Ivory Coast.

As the chocolate businesses noted, PES means that farmers get paid yearly for the survival of the planted trees as a reward for carbon removal. Next to the additional money from the PES, the fruit trees planted among the cocoa allow the farmers to further diversify their income.

Agroforestry is a cornerstone of Barry Callebaut’s Forever Chocolate strategy, Nestlé’s Net Zero ambition, and the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which aims to make Nestlé’s cocoa supply chain more sustainable.

“This collaboration with Nestlé allows us to support the planting of trees on cocoa farms while restoring ecosystems, removing carbon from the atmosphere, diversifying farmers’ incomes, and ultimately increasing the climate resilience of farmers,” said Tilmann Silber, global forest and carbon program manager at Barry Callebaut.

The project aims to mitigate the impact of climate change and restore natural biodiversity while helping cocoa farmers to prosper and increase their long-term productivity.

Data show that agroforestry helps farmers to develop cocoa farms that are more resilient to drought and diseases, have better soil quality, produce better and higher yields, and provide them with additional sources of income, the partners noted.

The project will also support farmers in creating the market linkage for the fruits and other products they produce through agroforestry, Barry Callebaut highlighted.

From Barry Callebaut’s perspective, the agroforestry approach is a farmer-centric, agile, long-term program building on trust and loyalty.

In the first year, the chocolate manufacturer said will farmers get sensitized on agroforestry, receive farm diagnostics, support with the planting design, seedling kits, and technical training.

The following year, replacement seedlings are distributed if needed, and technical coaching continues with a focus on pruning assistance. This period will also see the first payment for ecosystem services, according to their seedlings’ performance, also takes place.

These activities continue in the following years and are accompanied by land tenure interventions, to ensure a living income for farmers and sustainable cocoa production.

Meanwhile, the project, which supports Nestlé’s and Barry Callebaut’s climate-smart cocoa ambitions, targets to remove up to 1.3 million tons of CO2e over 25 years, aligning with the Science-based Target initiative (SBTi), as well SustainCert verification and the Gold Standard Foundation.

“As part of our Forever Chocolate plan, we invest in carbon removal activities jointly with our farmers and customers. This pioneering partnership with Nestlé, a company strongly committed to climate action, shows that agroforestry can deliver a significant positive impact where it matters most – in the shared value chain,” Silber added.

The implementation of the agroforestry project is reportedly underway, with three cooperatives in the Southwestern parts of Ivory Coast already engaged in the project, scaling to ten cooperatives and reaching full scale after five years of planting.

According to the company, its intensified agroforestry approach, launched in 2022 in Ghana and Ivory Coast, has placed a core focus on long-term success through training, extended monitoring, and payments for ecosystem services (PES).

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